Gun Violence: A disease?

By David Landeta

Recently, media reports of gun violence incidents have become alarmingly frequent across America. On October 1, a gunman opened fire at Oregon’s Umpqua Community College. Ten people were killed, including the perpetrator, Christopher Harper-Mercer, marking yet another mass shooting on a college campus.

The latest incident that caught media attention was the San Bernardino shooting on December 2, when a progressive community in California was shocked by the actions of a Muslim-American couple, who left fourteen people dead at a social services facility. Yet, citizens responded not just by paying tribute and condolences to the victims, but also by buying more guns for self-defense.

The call for gun regulation and reform has gained support as we see more and more gun violence perpetrations. But one factor has been ignored: the idea of treating gun violence as America’s newest and deadliest epidemic.

The health care industry has been demanding efforts to launch research towards gun reform and if they can indeed treat the gun violence issue as an epidemic for decades. Yet, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention is still banned from conducting research on gun violence. The support of this ban is headed by Appropriations Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives, which rejected the appeal, claiming that “a gun is not a disease.” This proposition gives Congress the ability to allow funding and was rejected once again.

Physicians tried once again to lift the ban of gun violence research by presenting this issue to Congress. On the December 2, the morning prior to the San Bernardino shooting, the Washington Post reported that the non-profit organization called Doctors for America entered Capitol Hill and proclaimed their petition, signed by 2,000 physicians nationwide. The group demanded for the government to “view gun violence as a public health epidemic and research ways to solve it – as the country would with any disease causing the deaths of thousands of Americans each year.” [4] In addition, they are demanding a 20-year lift on banning gun control research.

Hopefully, Congress may finally realize the importance of gun violence research from a health care perspective in the wake of mass shootings that terrorize our society.

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